James Hoggan’s Monster Journalistic Due Diligence Lapse

Bad enough that Desmogblog co-founder James Hoggan makes one if not more monster errors of assumption, but he recently (and in an almost comical inadvertent way) showed the world what not to do when an alleged news item isn’t getting the attention people believe it deserves. His lapse was a classic example of beliefs overriding elemental due diligence.

At a September 27 2014 New York City Queens Museum / Natural History Museum panel discussion titled “Climate Wars: Propaganda, Debate, and the Propaganda of Debate”, Hoggan appeared with two other speakers (one being the notorious Michael Mann). The main point of Hoggan’s presentation concerned the ‘unjustified bullying’ that scientists such as Mann were being subjected to – an unsupportable premise that I will address in my next blog post here. But Hoggan first needed to briefly explain what prompted him to start Desmogblog.

Starting at the 56:45 point of the video, Hoggan says the following. I’ve highlighted the two critical elements, one in red and the other in boldface type:

… In 2005 I was reading a book by Ross Gelbspan, who was an editor for the Boston Globe, who wrote a book called Boiling Point, and in that book, there was a piece on public relations, and some people who were trying to pull one over on us on climate change. And I remember reading it and thinking, like, “My God, this is like the tobacco story all over again. These guys are lying, I mean this is just lying, and organized lying, The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition, and the American Petroleum Institute, the Cato Institute, Heartland, the list goes on and on. So, when I was reading this book, and I’m embarrassed to say this now  ’cause at this time I knew nothing about climate change, but I was flying in a jet that belonged to this friend of mine, and I said “You should read this”, so I handed it to him, and about an hour later he said, “What should we do about this?” So I said, “Well, I was just reading in Fortune magazine the other day about something called blogs and maybe we should start a blog. We should call these people out, because they really seem to be roughing up these poor climate scientists.

First, Hoggan openly admits he knows nothing about climate change, but after reading just one book by Ross Gelbspan who is also not an expert on climate change (to the demonstrable contrary of such a label), he says ‘these guys’ – meaning skeptic climate scientists and skeptic speakers who cite those scientists – are liars.

But the monster due diligence lapse is seen in his answer to his jet owner friend’s question on what to do about Gelbspan’s book ‘revelations’.  No true traditional journalist would respond to accusations about lying without first checking to see if the accusations are true. Hoggan’s knee-jerk reaction apparently reveals how he trusts beliefs that sound true, as opposed to having an inherent desire to gather facts that are first proven to be true.

But Hoggan is not a journalist. He is a public relations man, and it is fair to say that traditional PR people know that the goal of public relations is to put the best possible face on an entity which is in the best interest of the entity’s owner, regardless of the validity of the entity itself.

Part 2 continues in my next blog post, “James Hoggan’s Pure Psychological Projection: ‘attacking the motives and character of those who disagree with us’